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Separating Yourself: Goal Setting, Get S.M.A.R.T. About It!

Updated: Jul 10, 2018



Now that summer is here, what are you doing with it? Going to have some fun, hang with friends? What about those dreams of making varsity, playing college sports, being "that guy or that girl? Most just go with the flow and take life as it comes. Nothing wrong with that on the surface, but for those athletes with dreams of going past high school and playing college, it becomes necessary to think and set goals for yourself.

I had a conversation with one of my athletes during one of my infamous "leg day best day" workouts. As we were pushing the 50 rep per set leg press, the thought came to mind that one has to be crazy to hit the gym at 5am, crank out a two hour court workout then hit the weights with a crazy lifting session. I told him that if you are wanting crazy results, you have to be willing to do crazy things to get them. I know that I was "preaching to the choir" with him. This guy inspires me with the fire that he is attacking his goals for his basketball career. The other night he sent me a plan that he had come up with for us to do in our next workout, Who does this? Someone who knows what they want and are willing to rise above the average, set some goals and dare to rise not only to them, but above them.

Goal setting is a lost art, but one that is a necessity for those who want to rise above the level of the competition. In my work with athletes and professionals over the last 20 years, I have learned that the people who succeed don't get there by accident, they have a plan. What kind of goals are you setting? Are they reasonable? Are they measurable? You need some S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for:

Specific - The Who, What, When Where Why and How. This is where you get specific on how you plan to reach your goals. Setting a goal to improve my game is too general, you need to be specific on what aspect you need to improve and how you plan to do it. A good example would be: "I want to increase my athleticism by signing up to train at a local sports performance center three days a week.

Measurable - Setting specific benchmarks that you want to reach. I often see guys playing pick up games and claiming that they are practicing their game. The absolute worst game I have ever seen players playing that seems to be really popular in this area is a game called "32" which is similar to "21". There is absolutely no value to playing this game with every man for himself and it usually ends up with a bunch of guys standing around the basket and two people going 1v1. Your time would be better spent doing 2v2 or 3v3 or 5v5. At least there you have the possibility of getting yourself into game like situations. A good goal here would be: "I want to become a more consistent shooter by making a minimum of 300 shots a day, 100 short-range, 100 mid range and 100 long-range."

Attainable - This is a challenge opportunity. On one hand you want to set a goal that is pretty high but at the same time you don't want to set it so high that you end up setting yourself up for failure. Make it one that you will be willing to sacrifice time and work for. It should cost you something to reach it. A good goal here could be: "I want to learn how to use my opposite hand when dribbling and shooting"

Relevant - This has to do with setting goals that will help you to achieve what your overall objective are. If you are trying to become a starter on your team, you have to look at what you are doing and see if it actually applies to helping you get there. Sometimes I can look in the gym and see players practicing all the latest "And1" moves. Sure it looks cool on highlight videos, but how much does it really contribute to you obtaining a starting position on a team where fundamentals and team play are stressed. Coaches are looking for players that know how to play the game efficiently and effectively and fundamentally sound. So stop watching the fancy highlights and get to working on the basics.

Timely (Time Based) - Here you need to set a specific deadline for achieving your goals. Leaving goals open-ended leaves you open to becoming lazy in working towards your goals. For the purpose of summer workouts, perhaps the end of the summer would be a great timeline for you to use. The reality is that the true end will be the start of your season but with the abundance of free time in the summer, you can choose to tackle the most ambitious goals and dedicate yourself to achieving them.

Following this simple guideline can be the start of making this the most productive summer of your life. The bottom line here is that you have to want it in order to achieve it. If you have the want to, then you need to stop reading this article and get out your pen and paper and start writing your goals out and then get up and go do it!

Stay Forever Strong!